Russians see room for moonbase in lunar lava caves

STAR CITY, Russia Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:40am IST

Russian cosmonaut Sergey Krikalyov speaks during a news conference in the Star City Cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow, March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Sergei Remezov/Files

Russian cosmonaut Sergey Krikalyov speaks during a news conference in the Star City Cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow, March 3, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Remezov/Files

Related Topics

STAR CITY, Russia (Reuters) - The United States may have put the first man on the moon, but Russian scientists and space explorers are now gazing at a new goal -- setting up a colony on the moon.

The discovery of volcanic tunnels on the moon could provide a natural shelter for the first lunar colony, cosmonauts and scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers have long suspected the moon's volcanic past left an underground network of lava tubes as its legacy, and 2008 images from Japan's Kaguya spacecraft showed a possible way down -- a mysterious, meters-deep hole breaching the surface.

"This new discovery that the moon may be a rather porous body could significantly alter our approach to founding lunar bases," veteran spaceman Sergei Krikalyov, who heads Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center outside Moscow, said at a forum on the future of manned spaceflight.

"If it turns out that the moon has a number of caves that can provide some protection from radiation and meteor showers, it could be an even more interesting destination than previously thought," he said.

A slide-show image showing bunker-like inflatable tents dotting the lunar landscape helped forum participants imagine the lunar bases.

"There wouldn't be any need to dig the lunar soil and build walls and ceilings," said Krikalyov.

"It would be enough to use an inflatable module with a hard outer shell to -- roughly speaking -- seal the caves."

The first such lunar colonies could be built by 2030, estimated Boris Kryuchkov, the deputy science head at the training center.

As the world's space agencies debate where to fly beyond low-Earth orbit, including deep space missions to asteroids and Mars, the European Space Agency's (ESA) head of human spaceflight programmes said the moon also looked attractive.

"In ESA, there is still a very strong focus on the moon. It could be a natural first to go there," Martin Zell told Reuters.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Jon Boyle)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ebola Outbreak

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Siege Of Kobani

Siege Of Kobani

Air strikes hit Kobani as Kurdish peshmerga prepare to enter  Full Article 

Unrest in Burkina Faso

Unrest in Burkina Faso

Army chief takes power after Burkina president bows to protests  Full Article 

Sri Lankan Landslide

Sri Lankan Landslide

Rains slow Sri Lankan landslide search; nearly 150 feared dead  Full Article 

Controversial Remark

Controversial Remark

Thousands denounce HSBC board member's likening of Hong Kong people to freed slaves.  Full Article 

Human Rights

Human Rights

Iran hits back after West condemns its human rights record  Full Article 

Failed Launch

Failed Launch

U.S. rocket explosion investigation suspects main engine failure  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage